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Distinguished Young Women Prepare For Their Big Night

The annual Distinguished Young Women of Oakdale program will be held on Saturday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at Magnolia School Auditorium.

Oakdale High School senior Shannen Yang currently holds the title of Oakdale’s Distinguished Young Woman. The program features 10 participants from the Class of 2020. The first five were featured in the Feb. 27 issue; the remaining five contestants are listed here, provided in alphabetical order.


Kendal Houck

Following graduation from Oakdale High School, Kendal plans to attend college and study psychology for a career as a developmental psychologist. At OHS, Kendal has participated on the water polo and swim teams. She is active in the Dead Poets Society Club and the S Club. Kendal participated in an American Association of University Women’s speech contest where she earned first place for her efforts. Outside of school, Kendal enjoys theater and literature. Encouraging Kendal in all of her endeavors are her parents Kasey and David Houck and sister Kassidy.


Grace Leijten

With an interest in teaching, following graduation from Oakdale High School, Grace would like to attend the University of Dallas and study English. At OHS, Grace has participated on the Occupational Olympics Team earning Honorable Mention and Third Place awards. Grace has also been active in water sports at OHS as a member of the water polo and swim teams. Grace earned the “Most Improved Player” award for water polo and also placed first at the Valley Oak League Championships Junior Varsity girls’ competition in the 100 yard backstroke. In addition, Grace participated in the American Association of University Women’s speech contest placing fourth overall. In her spare time, Grace enjoys reading, writing, swimming, traveling, and drawing. Encouraging Grace in all of her efforts are her parents Tiffany and Rod Leijten, brothers Hank, Wesley, and Luke, and sister Ava-Maria.


Kelli-Lyn Roché

With a love for kids and an interest in the medical field, after graduation from Oakdale High School, Kelli-Lyn plans to attend a university and study for a career in either teaching or a medical-related field. Kelli-Lyn participates on the water polo team at OHS and was honored with the “Rookie of the Year” award her freshman year and the “Mustang Award” for her efforts during her junior season. She enjoys volunteering at high school water polo and wrestling tournaments. Kelli-Lyn has also volunteered in the children’s ministry at her church as well as provided Bible study lessons at a Kids’ Sports Camp. Her interests include music such as singing and guitar which she is currently learning to play. Kelli-Lyn is passionate about art including painting, drawing, and calligraphy. She also enjoys reading and math. Always there cheering Kelli-Lyn on are her parents Steven and Sharon Roché and brothers Luke and John.


Emily Thomas

Emily loves everything about the theater, from acting to dancing, and has participated in theater productions with the Oakdale High School drama department since her freshman year. Emily has earned her Drama Block O and various theater awards for her efforts. Emily also participates in the Honor Choir at OHS and has earned her Academic Block O. In addition, Emily has volunteered as a technician controlling the sound board for the youth ministry group at her church. Emily’s interests include reading fictional series as well as historical fiction. She is also interested in psychology and is currently taking an AP psychology course. Emily also loves to learn about science. Most particularly, Emily loves musical theater, performing in as well as attending musical productions. Following graduation from OHS, Emily would like to attend Stanford University and study acting and medicine with a goal of becoming a psychologist/psychiatrist. Emily’s biggest fans are her parents Bonnie and Robert Thomas and brother Logan.


Andrea York

A member of the golf team at Oakdale High School, Andrea’s goal is to receive a scholarship to play golf in college following graduation from OHS. Andrea enjoys public speaking and has earned first place awards in the 2018 Sunrise Rotary Club’s Speech Contest and 2018 MD-4 California Lions Student Speakers Program as well as second place awards in the 2018 Area 7 Rotary International Speech Contest and 2019 Sunrise Rotary Speech Contest. Andrea assists with golf lessons at Del Rio Youth Golf Academy. She has volunteered her time supervising school children during school events and PTC meetings as well as with the ASTRO Foundation. Andrea enjoys playing the piano and has been playing since the age of four. She has been taking voice lessons for two years and is currently teaching herself to play the ukulele. Other interests include traveling and outdoor activities. Andrea’s proud supporters are her parents Gina and Loren York and brother Ryan.


Soroptimist International of Oakdale has sponsored the local Distinguished Young Women – formerly known as Junior Miss – program for the past 31 years.